It’s a well-known fact that Alabama is, well, fat. I believe it’s currently ranked the 5th most obese state (as always, thank God for Mississippi!) and Birmingham was ranked 3rd most obese city by Men’s Health.
Sure, people in Birmingham are larger. It’s all the Southern fried deliciousness consumed at every meal and the fast food joints as far as the eye can see. But I have to say, after almost two years of living in the city, I just don’t see it. When I think of Birmingham, I see an incredibly active city that is continuously growing—pun totally intended. Boutique gyms, Crossfit boxes, yoga studios, rock climbing centers—pick your workout and Birmingham has a community for you to join.
And running. The running! I’m not sure how it’s possible to live in Birmingham and not be a runner. Or at least admit to having a little fire in your belly to want to try running. The other week the Birmingham Track Club reached over 1,000 official members—and that doesn’t even count the runners who join the runs but aren’t members, or the trail community. For an “obese” city, that’s a lot of fucking people running.
Last week, the Birmingham Track Club’s monthly social was held at Resolute Running, the running fitness center where I train and am a trail leader. It’s become a hotspot for some pretty amazing runners, and more and more people keep joining our team ready to train and crush their PRs. But again, here’s a gym—just for running!—right in the heart of Lardville. How awesome is that?
Between the BTC, Resolute Running, the Village Runners, and all other groups that meet daily in and around town, road runners have a gigantic family and support system. I love going on long runs every week and being able to both meet new people and catch up with friends. Yesterday, I met a fellow Resolute runner at 4:30 a.m. so that we could knock out some early miles. There’s a sense of relief knowing that you can run any hour at any pace and find someone to keep you company, distract you, pull you out of that dark place when you’re bonking.
Birmingham has a special thing going. I’m not denying that we’re grossly unhealthy—that’s a post for a different day. But the country needs to look beyond the statistics and give us credit for being pretty damn athletic too.